Accusation 8: Provides “Inaccurate Interpretation”

A number of objectionable statements appear on the website regarding Atkins…

  • Comparisons to Other Nutritional Approaches. At pages 7 and 15 of the site, you provide an inaccurate interpretation of the data from Dansinger study comparing the ANA [Atkins Diet], Weight Watchers, The Zone Diet, and the Ornish Diet, leaving the impression that the largely vegetarian Ornish Diet is superior to the ANA [Atkins Diet].

Of all the diets studied, the Ornish diet was the only one to significantly lower the single most important cardiac risk factor measured, LDL-cholesterol (“bad cholesterol”).[852] It was the only one to significantly lower insulin levels, even though that’s what Atkins and The Zone diets were designed to do. Unlike the Atkins Diet, the Ornish diet also significantly lowered inflammatory and heart disease risk factor C-reactive protein, and improved a measure of kidney function.[853] The Ornish diet also was the one in which adherents lost the most weight.[854]

Atkins Guilty of Inaccuracy

That study actually showed a significant reduction in the Framingham risk score in all diets except for the Ornish Diet, and the average weight loss on the ANA [Atkins Diet] was 6.4% after one year.

This is incorrect. The average weight loss on the Atkins Diet was 3.9%, not 6.4%.[857] You may have been confusing the Atkins Diet with Dean Ornish’s low fat vegetarian diet that showed the greatest weight loss.

As documented in Atkins Comes in Last for Long-Term Weight Maintenance, there have been four long-term controlled studies of the Atkins Diet and not once did your diet significantly outperform the control “low fat” diets.[858-861] One was the Atkins versus Ornish, Weight Watchers and The Zone. Another also compared a low fat vegetarian (vegan) diet to the “Atkins Diet.”[862] Those who ate as much as they wanted of the vegan diet lost an average of 52 pounds–60% more than those reportedly on the Atkins diet. That was an average weight loss not of 4– or even 6%–but a loss of over 18% of body weight.[863]

For a discussion of the Framingham score finding, please see Dr. Ornish’s explanation and our response to accusation #14.

It bears repeating that cardiac risk factors aside, the Ornish Diet has been shown to actually reverse heart disease,[864] whereas your diet has been shown to significantly worsen heart disease.[865]